What is the most common chronic illness in children?

Allergic rhinitis is the most common chronic illness in children over the age of two.

Allergic rhinitis is a combination of symptoms, including sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, and itchy nose, that children experience in response to an allergen trigger.

The triggers can be pollen from trees, grasses and flowers, as well as pet dander, dust mites, and a whole host of other environmental exposures. Allergic rhinitis can occur year-round or be limited to a particular pollen season or exposure (e.g., when a child with an allergy to cats handles one). Reducing these exposures by covering the mattress and pillow with a special allergy resistant pillowcase and washing bed linens and stuffed animals weekly can help. Keeping pets out of the bedroom of children with allergies to pets is a must.

If medical treatment is necessary, your child’s doctor will prescribe an intranasal steroid spray or an oral once-a-day antihistamine or both to manage symptoms.

Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, April 2019

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